These are the changes made to Oyster Street, Old Portsmouth, over the years

Do you recognise this party which Bob Hind believes may have at the Portsmouth Guildhall?
Do you recognise this party which Bob Hind believes may have at the Portsmouth Guildhall?

My recent articles on Snook’s, the egg and butter importer who had premises in Oyster Street, Old Portsmouth, brought back a memory from Tony Thatcher whose grandfather also had premises in the street. 

They were located at number 36 and at one time the lord mayor’s horses were stabled there. In the south wall are remains of medieval brickwork. 

The premises of marine engineers F&S Thatcher and Popinjay's next door

The premises of marine engineers F&S Thatcher and Popinjay's next door

Tony tells me the building dates from around 1540 and was once adjacent to Town Quay before the modern camber came into being.

Mr Thatcher opened the business around 1920 and it appears to have changed little over the years.

Even in Tony’s time there was still a cobble stone floor on which were belt-driven lathes and other heavy machinery. Health and safety officers would have a fit today.

Next door to Thatcher’s was Popinjay’s warehouse and in 1948 it belonged to Frank Leake and was used as a marine store. To this day a rope pulley to the doors above is still in situ.

Oyster Street today with modern doors and the pulley arm has been reinstated with block and tackle.

Oyster Street today with modern doors and the pulley arm has been reinstated with block and tackle.

Oyster Street was rebuilt after wartime bombing and cut in half. The end where Thatcher’s is today is called French Street. 

Thatcher’s is now the premises of John Perry yacht, boat and launch builders, so a seafaring business at least remains in this historic part of Old Portsmouth.

Below is the same scene today. In the past 18 years the facade has changed, with modern doors and windows added.

This part of Oyster Street, which would have continued under the white house and brick building, is now a cul-de-sac called French Street.

Upholsterer and cabinet maker Ernest Smith had premises in St Edwards Road, Southsea.

Upholsterer and cabinet maker Ernest Smith had premises in St Edwards Road, Southsea.

n I was in the Castle Road, Southsea, area taking then and now photographs recently and walking into St Edward’s Road I came across this old building, below right

It was once the premises of Ernest Smith, an upholsterer and cabinet maker.

I looked up the firm in my 1948 Kelly’s and at that time it was the premises of Frank Wilkins, a dairy equipment specialist. 

As can be seen, two doors have been bricked up with perhaps new lintels put in. Under ‘cabinet maker’ other wording has been defaced by newer brickwork.

Does anyone know when Ernest went out of business?

n The picture on the opposite page, from the Tony Davis collection, states that it is a party in the Town Hall.

If it is then it pre-dates 1927 when Portsmouth became a city and the Town Hall was renamed the Guildhall.

I do not know what the occassion was. And if it is pre-1927 then I do not expect there is anyone surviving who attended the function, but it is still a lovely photograph.